Two figures stood on a lonely dune, silhouetted against a violently crimson
sky. One form was stiffly regal, wearing a tall, tapered white crown and
the raiment of the dead. A linen shroud bound his body with his arms
crossed against his chest, leaving only face and hands exposed. These were
the brilliant green of lush summer vegetation.
Ra stood beside his grandchild. The ancient sun deity was splendid in snowy
linen robes. He died each night to be reborn into the sky each day, even as
the lily closes and sinks underwater only to rise and bloom again. But that
cycle might yet end. The creator god, the defeator of Chaos, looked into
the distance with shining eyes. It might have been from his own luminosity,
it might have been from tears.
The earth stretched before them, a dry brown waste. The green ribbon of
fertility they presided over was gone. The red lands had taken over,
destroyed everything. Set had won. Then he himself had died. The world was
unraveling at the edges, coming undone like a cheap cere-cloth. The god of
death and regeneration waited for his ancestor to speak.
"You know, the sun is greater. I am." Ra spoke, convincing the world and
himself of this truth. "The sun always rises." As he spoke the sky
glimmered and the horizon glowed a pale fushia. The sun disc rose, a bloody
orb. It shown like it did upon setting, with an unearthly cranberry light.
Both gods watched in silence. Osiris, who had not seen the living world's
sun for countless millennia; and Ra, who looked at the familiar face as he
would his own reflected in a calm temple pool.
He toyed with a large white feather, tickling his chin in a thoughtful
manner. "Ma'at is forever." Somehow his tone both commanding and defiant.
The sun god's dark eyes were sorrowful.
Osiris spoke through unmoving lips. "Even forever ends." His fingers moved
gracefully, unhindered despite his bound arms. He took the ostrich plume,
it nodded gently at his touch, bending under its own weight. He studied it
intently, as a new father might his firstborn child. Thoughtfully he slowly
raised it to his mouth, as if it were some key to unlock his lips.
Ra reached over and took the feather back. Ma'at was his tool, his way to
keep order. To keep the universe together. Like all tools, she too would
eventually fail. He could feel it happening, the knowledge ate at his heart
like a great serpent, yet still he denied it.
It was the fault of mankind, of that he was sure. He thought of the stately
lion-headed goddess drenched in blood. "I should have let her kill them
Osiris knew of whom he spoke. "You did rightly, you could hardly have done
otherwise." He paused delicately, "This would have come sooner, had there
been no one to worship us."
"The fight against Chaos should have been won."
"What would be the point of existing if you had defeated it entirely?
We define ourselves as much by what we are not as we do by what we are."
"But I exist to fight it, to defeat it."
"And what would have happened after that?"
"We have tried to fight Chaos since creation. Most of mankind has
done the same. We taught them to."
"They have not succeeded. Not even in their." he spit out the word
distastefully, "modern incarnations."
Osiris observed magnanimously, "We are not infallible; we cannot expect it
of our creations."
Ra's response was silence. A loud silence, full of unspoken anger and
potential. The feather of ma'at was still in his hand. His heart was heavy.
But he did not speak.
Osiris shook his head silently. His green face remained serene, yet
there was a crack between the rise of his cheekbones and his eyes. Taut
skin remained solid, yet appeared loose. The great god bowed ever so
slightly to his grandfather. In doing so his face fell into the sand and
lay there, like skin sloughed off by the cobra. It looked up at the two
gods, like a hollow eyed death mask painted the obscene green of advanced
Osiris looked up, his face now nothing but blackness. It was the
darkness of death, with the depth of the Nile's fertile soil. In the end,
grandfather and grandchild are the same.
The black devoured the deities, slipped over the sands, sliding down
the lofty dunes, encroaching on the ends of the world. The sky's hue
deepened momentarily- hanging for one second like a drop of blood before
falling into the darkness. Stars shone vaguely, distantly, stilly-as if
they feared to shine.
Then came the rushing, the roar of blood coursing through their ears,
the sound of every river flooding its banks and of every ocean merging into
one great deluge. A turbulent crashing of waves filled the empty jar of
Chaos was reborn.
Time did not exist, or had no meaning.
In the interminable black, something changed.
A single blue lotus--narrow and pale, fragile as spun ice--rose, and
shimmered with a newborn light all its own.